How to Replace Damaged (or Destroyed) US Currency

Anyone who has ever run their wallet in a washing machine wondered what to do with a ruined wad of money. Your local bank can replace a few torn bills, but if your emergency funds are petrified, burned to shreds, partially digested, or otherwise seriously damaged, you will need to call the professionals.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is the division of the US Treasury responsible for the actual printing of banknotes distributed by the Federal Reserve; As currency printing experts, it makes sense to be currency recovery experts as well, and that’s exactly what the Broken Currencies Division does. Each year, their team of roughly twenty people processes over twenty thousand claims and pays out approximately forty million dollars in compensation.This video from the Great Big Story shows the painstaking process in a little more detail:

If you have damaged currency to ship, be sure to read the official instructions for filing a claim . Requirement number one: disturbing currency as little as possible when packing it for shipment. This means you shouldn’t try to split the leaked bills, and if your money has been damaged in a bag or box – or, in one case, an animal’s stomach – carefully pack the entire container and ship it. (It’s worth mentioning that the BEP only handles paper money; if you have damaged coins that you want to replace, send them to the US Mint according to their redemption program rules .)

Handling and counting spoiled currency is delicate, tedious and unpredictable work, which is why it takes a very long time to process claims – six to thirty-six months, according to the BEP website. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that even completely spoiled money can actually be replaced.


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